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Years and Volumes

2015 Anniversary Issue


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Molecular Medicine 2015

Articles from this Volume

Huan Yang, Haichao Wang, Sangeeta S Chavan, and Ulf Andersson

High mobility group box protein 1 (HMGB1) is an evolutionary ancient nuclear protein that exerts divergent biological tasks inside and outside of cells. The functions of HMGB1 depend on location, binding partners and redox states of the molecule. In the nucleus, HMGB1 organizes DNA and nucleosomes and regulates gene transcription. Upon cell activation or injury, nuclear HMGB1 can translocate to the cytoplasm, where it is involved in inflammasome activation and pyroptosis, as well as regulation of the autophagy/apoptosis balance. When actively secreted or passively released into the extracellular milieu, HMGB1 has cytokine, chemokine, neuroimmune and metabolic activities. Thus, HMGB1 plays multiple roles in the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases and mediates immune responses that range from inflammation and bacterial killing to tissue repair. HMGB1 has been associated with divergent clinical conditions such as sepsis, rheumatoid arthritis and atherosclerosis. HMGB1 initiates and perpetuates immune responses during infectious and sterile inflammation, as the archetypical alarmin and damage-associated molecular pattern (DAMP) molecule. We here describe advances in the understanding of HMGB1 biology with focus on recent findings of its mission as a DAMP in danger sensing and as a therapeutic target in inflammatory diseases.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Oct 27, 2015 10:26 AM CDT
Rick Bucala

Since the discovery of the “fibrocyte” as a collagen-producing leukocyte in the 1990s, our knowledge of the physiologic and pathologic role of this unique cell population has grown steadily. Fibrocytes traffic to sites of injury during the earliest phase of the innate immune response and exhibit both the inflammatory features of macrophages and the tissue remodeling properties of fibroblasts. Fibrocytes are distinguished by the simultaneous expression of CD34 or CD45 and collagen. Although these cells were first described in the context of wound repair, accruing evidence supports their central participation in the pathogenesis of different fibrosing disorders. Reliable methods for the enumeration of circulating fibrocytes have been developed, which indicate the utility of such measurements in disease prognosis. Ongoing research is focusing on the molecular signals that influence fibrocyte migration, proliferation and function in the context of normal physiology and pathology. Fibrocyte-directed therapies also have entered clinical testing for the amelioration of aberrant wound repair and pulmonary fibrosis.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Oct 27, 2015 10:15 AM CDT
Maria Ruggieri

To celebrate the 20th anniversary of Molecular Medicine, this special issue showcases the fields of science influenced by the most cited scientific contributions to the journal over the past two decades.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Oct 27, 2015 10:01 AM CDT
Cong Lin, Jan von der Thüsen, Joost Daalhuisen, Marieke ten Brink, Bruno Crestani,3Tom van der Poll, Keren Borensztajn, and C Arnold Spek

Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis is the most devastating diffuse fibrosing lung disease that remains refractory to therapy. Despite increasing evidence that protease-activated receptor 2 (PAR-2) contributes to fibrosis, its importance in pulmonary fibrosis is under debate. We addressed whether PAR-2 deficiency persistently reduces bleomycin-induced pulmonary fibrosis or merely delays disease progression and whether pharmacological PAR-2 inhibition limits experimental pulmonary fibrosis. Bleomycin was instilled intranasally into wild-type or PAR-2–deficient mice in the presence/absence of a specific PAR-2 antagonist (P2pal-18S). Pulmonary fibrosis was consistently reduced in PAR-2–deficient mice throughout the fibrotic phase, as evident from reduced Ashcroft scores (29%) and hydroxyproline levels (26%) at d 28. Moreover, P2pal-18S inhibited PAR-2–induced profibrotic responses in both murine and primary human pulmonary fibroblasts (p < 0.05). Once daily treatment with P2pal-18S reduced the severity and extent of fibrotic lesions in lungs of bleomycin-treated wild-type mice but did not further reduce fibrosis in PAR-2–deficient mice. Importantly, P2pal-18S treatment starting even 7 d after the onset of fibrosis limits pulmonary fibrosis as effectively as when treatment was started together with bleomycin instillation. Overall, PAR-2 contributes to the progression of pulmonary fibrosis, and targeting PAR-2 may be a promising therapeutic strategy for treating pulmonary fibrosis.

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Supplemental Data
Posted by Sheila Platt on Oct 15, 2015 9:55 AM CDT
Regina Sordi, Fausto Chiazza, Florence L Johnson, Nimesh S A Patel, Karim Brohi, Massimo Collino, and Christoph Thiemermann

Nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) activation is widely implicated in multiple organ failure (MOF); however, a direct inhibitor of IκB kinase (IKK), which plays a pivotal role in the activation of NF-κB, has not been investigated in shock. Thus, the aim of the present work was to investigate the effects of an IKK inhibitor on the MOF associated with hemorrhagic shock (HS). Therefore, rats were subjected to HS and were resuscitated with the shed blood. Rats were treated with the inhibitor of IKK or vehicle at resuscitation. Four hours later, blood and organs were assessed for organ injury and signaling events involved in the activation of NF-κB. Additionally, survival following serum deprivation was assessed in HK-2 cells treated with the inhibitor of IKK. HS resulted in renal dysfunction, lung, liver and muscular injury, and increases in serum inflammatory cytokines. Kidney and liver tissue from HS rats revealed increases in phosphorylation of IKKαβ and IκBα, nuclear translocation of NF-κB and expression of inducible isoform of nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). IKK16 treatment upon resuscitation attenuated NF-κB activation and activated the Akt survival pathway, leading to a significant attenuation of all of the above parameters. Furthermore, IKK16 exhibited cytoprotective effects in human kidney cells. In conclusion, the inhibitor of IKK complex attenuated the MOF associated with HS. This effect may be due to the inhibition of the NF-κB pathway and activation of the survival kinase Akt. Thus, the inhibition of the IKK complex might be an effective strategy for the prevention of MOF associated with HS.

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Posted by Leah Caracappa on Oct 2, 2015 1:36 PM CDT
Cristhiane Favero Aguiar, Cristiane Naffah-de-Souza, Angela Castoldi, Matheus Corrêa-Costa,Tárcio T Braga, Érika L Naka, Mariane T Amano, Débora T R S Abate, Meire I Hiyane, Marcos A Cenedeze, Alvaro Pacheco e Silva Filho, and Niels O S Câmara

Natural killer T (NKT) cells are a subset of lymphocytes that reacts to glycolipids presented by CD1d. Invariant NKT cells (iNKT) correspond to >90% of the total population of NKTs and reacts to α-galactosylceramide (αGalCer). αGalCer promotes a complex mixture of Th1 and Th2 cytokines, as interferon (IFN)-γ and interleukin (IL)-4. NKT cells and IFN-γ are known to participate in some models of renal diseases, but further studies are still necessary to elucidate their mechanisms. The aim of our study was to analyze the participation of iNKT cells in an experimental model of tubule-interstitial nephritis. We used 8-wk-old C57BL/6j, Jα18KO and IFN-γKO mice. They were fed a 0.25% adenine diet for 10 d. Both adenine-fed wild-type (WT) and Jα18KO mice exhibited renal dysfunction, but adenine-fed Jα18KO mice presented higher expression of kidney injury molecule-1 (KIM-1), tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α and type I collagen. To analyze the role of activated iNKT cells in our model, we administered αGalCer in WT mice during adenine ingestion. After αGalCer injection, we observed a significant reduction in serum creatinine, proinflammatory cytokines and renal fibrosis. However, this improvement in renal function was not observed in IFN-γKO mice after αGalCer treatment and adenine feeding, illustrating that this cytokine plays a role in our model. Our findings may suggest that IFN-γ production is one of the factors contributing to improved renal function after αGalCer administration.

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Supplemental Data
Posted by Sheila Platt on Sep 29, 2015 1:13 PM CDT
Andrew M Tan, Omar A Samad, Sulayman D Dib-Hajj, and Stephen G Waxman

Diabetic neuropathic pain affects a substantial number of people and represents a major public health problem. Available clinical treatments for diabetic neuropathic pain remain only partially effective and many of these treatments carry the burden of side effects or the risk of dependence. The misexpression of sodium channels within nociceptive neurons contributes to abnormal electrical activity associated with neuropathic pain. Voltage-gated sodium channel Nav1.3 produces tetrodotoxin-sensitive sodium currents with rapid repriming kinetics and has been shown to contribute to neuronal hyperexcitability and ectopic firing in injured neurons. Suppression of Nav1.3 activity can attenuate neuropathic pain induced by peripheral nerve injury. Previous studies have shown that expression of Nav1.3 is upregulated in dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons of diabetic rats that exhibit neuropathic pain. Here, we hypothesized that viral-mediated knockdown of Nav1.3 in painful diabetic neuropathy would reduce neuropathic pain. We used a validated recombinant adeno-associated virus (AAV)-shRNA-Nav1.3 vector to knockdown expression of Nav1.3, via a clinically applicable intrathecal injection method. Three weeks following vector administration, we observed a significant rate of transduction in DRGs of diabetic rats that concomitantly reduced neuronal excitability of dorsal horn neurons and reduced behavioral evidence of tactile allodynia. Taken together, these findings offer a novel gene therapy approach for addressing chronic diabetic neuropathic pain.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Sep 29, 2015 12:54 PM CDT
Hyong Woo Choi, Miaoying Tian, Fei Song, Emilie Venereau, Alessandro Preti, Sang-Wook Park, Keith Hamilton, G V T Swapna, Murli Manohar, Magali Moreau, Alessandra Agresti, Andrea Gorzanelli, Francesco De Marchis, Huang Wang, Marc Antonyak, Robert J Micikas, Daniel R Gentile, Richard A Cerione, Frank C Schroeder, Gaetano T Montelione, Marco E Bianchi, and Daniel F Klessig

Salicylic acid (SA) and its derivatives have been used for millennia to reduce pain, fever and inflammation. In addition, prophylactic use of acetylsalicylic acid, commonly known as aspirin, reduces the risk of heart attack, stroke and certain cancers. Because aspirin is rapidly de-acetylated by esterases in human plasma, much of aspirin’s bioactivity can be attributed to its primary metabolite, SA. Here we demonstrate that human high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) is a novel SA-binding protein. SA-binding sites on HMGB1 were identified in the HMG-box domains by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopic studies and confirmed by mutational analysis. Extracellular HMGB1 is a damage-associated molecular pattern molecule (DAMP), with multiple redox states. SA suppresses both the chemoattractant activity of fully reduced HMGB1 and the increased expression of proinflammatory cytokine genes and cyclooxygenase 2 (COX-2) induced by disulfide HMGB1. Natural and synthetic SA derivatives with greater potency for inhibition of HMGB1 were identified, providing proof-of-concept that new molecules with high efficacy against sterile inflammation are attainable. An HMGB1 protein mutated in one of the SA-binding sites identified by NMR chemical shift perturbation studies retained chemoattractant activity, but lost binding of and inhibition by SA and its derivatives, thereby firmly establishing that SA binding to HMGB1 directly suppresses its proinflammatory activities. Identification of HMGB1 as a pharmacological target of SA/aspirin provides new insights into the mechanisms of action of one of the world’s longest and most used natural and synthetic drugs. It may also provide an explanation for the protective effects of low-dose aspirin usage.

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Supplemental Data
Posted by Leah Caracappa on Sep 23, 2015 8:11 AM CDT
Karin M E Andersson, Nicola Filluelo Cavallini, Dan Hu, Mikael Brisslert, Ron Cialic, Hadi Valadi, Malin C Erlandsson, Sofia Silfverswärd, Rille Pullerits, Vijay K Kuchroo, Howard L Weiner, and Maria I Bokarewa

T-helper cells producing interleukin (IL)-17A and IL-17F cytokines (Th17 cells) are considered the source of autoimmunity in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). In this study, we characterized specific pathogenic features of Th17 cells in RA. By using nano-string technology, we analyzed transcription of 419 genes in the peripheral blood CCR6 CXCR3– CD4 cells of 14 RA patients and 6 healthy controls and identified 109 genes discriminating Th17 cells of RA patients from the controls. Th17 cells of RA patients had an aggressive pathogenic profile and in addition to signature cytokines IL-17, IL-23 and IL-21, and transcriptional regulators RAR-related orphan receptor gamma of T cells (RORγt ) and Janus kinase 2 (JAK2 ), they produced high levels of IL-23R, C-C chemokine ligand type 20 (CCL20), granulocyte-monocyte colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF ) and transcription factor Tbet required for synovial homing. We showed that Th17 cells are enriched with Helios-producing Foxp3- and IL2RA-deficient cells, indicating altered regulatory profile. The follicular T-helper (Tfh) cells presented a functional profile of adaptor molecules, transcriptional regulator Bcl-6 and B-cell activating cytokines IL-21, IL-31 and leukemia inhibitory factor (LIF ). We observed that anti–tumor necrosis factor (TNF) treatment had a limited effect on the transcription signature of Th17 cells. Patients in remission retained the machinery of receptors (IL-23R and IL-1R1), proinflammatory cytokines (IL-17F, IL-23, IL-21 and TNF ) and adaptor molecules (C-X-C chemokine receptor 5 [CXCR5] and cytotoxic T-lymphocyte-associated protein 4 [CTLA-4 ]), essential for efficient transdifferentiation and accumulation of Th17 cells. This study convincingly shows that the peripheral blood CCR6 CXCR3– CD4 cells of RA patients harbor pathogenic subsets of Th17 and Tfh cells, which may transdifferentiate from Tregs and contribute to perpetuation of the disease.

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Posted by Sheila Platt on Sep 15, 2015 2:28 PM CDT
Aviv Cohen, Jenny Lerner-Yardeni, David Meridor, Roni Kasher, Ilana Nathan, and Abraham H Parola

Humanin and its derivatives are peptides known for their protective antiapoptotic effects against Alzheimer’s disease. Herein, we identify a novel function of the humanin-derivative AGA(C8R)-HNG17 (namely, protection against cellular necrosis). Necrosis is one of the main modes of cell death, which was until recently considered an unmoderated process. However, recent findings suggest the opposite. We have found that AGA(C8R)-HNG17 confers protection against necrosis in the neuronal cell lines PC-12 and NSC-34, where necrosis is induced in a glucose-free medium by either chemohypoxia or by a shift from apoptosis to necrosis. Our studies in traumatic brain injury models in mice, where necrosis is the main mode of neuronal cell death, have shown that AGA(C8R)-HNG17 has a protective effect. This result is demonstrated by a decrease in a neuronal severity score and by a reduction in brain edema, as measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). An insight into the peptide’s antinecrotic mechanism was attained through measurements of cellular ATP levels in PC-12 cells under necrotic conditions, showing that the peptide mitigates a necrosis-associated decrease in ATP levels. Further, we demonstrate the peptide’s direct enhancement of the activity of ATP synthase activity, isolated from rat-liver mitochondria, suggesting that AGA(C8R)-HNG17 targets the mitochondria and regulates cellular ATP levels. Thus,  AGA(C8R)-HNG17 has potential use for the development of drug therapies for necrosis-related diseases, for example, traumatic brain injury, stroke, myocardial infarction, and other conditions for which no efficient drug-based treatment is currently available. Finally, this study provides new insight into the mechanisms underlying the antinecrotic mode of action of AGA(C8R)-HNG17.

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Supplemental Data
Posted by Sheila Platt on Sep 15, 2015 9:01 AM CDT
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